With the end of the year fast approaching, your life may seem busier and more stressful than ever. With a to-do list that seems never-ending, the last thing on your mind is health insurance benefits and FSA funds. We’re here to tell you why using your FSA should be on the top of your to-do list and how you can have fun making the most of it!
First, what is a Flexible Spending Account?
A Flexible Spending Account, or FSA, is an account consisting of money you chose to set aside from your paycheck that is reserved for health-related expenses. This money is non-taxed, so the benefit is in not having to pay tax on funds used to purchase these particular items. The catch is that these funds are characterized as “use it or lose it,” meaning they need to be used by a certain date or the funds are forfeited.
Don’t worry, we’re not going to let that happen to you.
Here is a list of 10 ways to use your FSA money before you lose it. Try not to look at it as an obligation. Let’s consider it a time to treat yourself to the most responsible shopping spree of your adult life!
- Prescription Sunglasses
Maybe we’re biased, but we think there is nothing more exciting than a new pair of prescription sunglasses. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to see clearly, protect your eyes from the sun, and look fabulous all at once, this is your chance! Our patients always say: “Once you get prescription sunglasses, you never go back.” Sunglasses are an important and fun part of our everyday life and are recommended for use year-round. Even if your eyeglass prescription is very mild, you will love the benefits of a new pair of Rx sunnies. Our online store has dozens of sunglasses to fit any style.
- Backup or Alternate Specs
A lot has changed in the last year, including our visual demands with changes in our workspace setup. Perhaps now is the time to invest in a pair of glasses specialized for computer use to give your eyes a much-needed break from the screen. Consider having fun with a funky frame that you’d love to show off in your zoom meetings as an alternative style or backup pair of specs. If you’ve ever felt the panic of your only pair of glasses being lost or stepped on, do yourself a favor and use your FSA for a backup pair of glasses! Check out our selection of blue light blockers and best-selling eyewear to add to your wardrobe.
- Contact Lenses
Remember to check your contact lens supply. If you don’t have enough to get you through until your appointment next year, use your FSA funds and order more now! Your contact lens solution can also be purchased using your FSA funds. Ordering your contact lenses ahead of time is also referred to as “adulting.” So go ahead and treat yourself to lenses, now available in our eyewear store!
- Eye Health
Winter is coming, and it can be hard on our eyes. The dry, cold air in addition to dryness from our increased screen time can lead to a significant increase in dry eye disease. Luckily, many common treatments for dry eyes are available over the counter and covered by your FSA funds. If your eye doctor ever recommended artificial tears, warm compresses, or lid scrubs for treatment of your dry eyes, all of these things can be purchased with your FSA.
- Eye Exams and Other Specialty Appointments
If all of the above suggestions seem a bit unfamiliar or like a vague memory, it’s probably because you’re overdue for an eye exam! Schedule an appointment with your eye doctor before the year is up, and use your FSA for any copays that might be required with your insurance. While you’re at it, make time to visit your dentist and primary care doctor, as well. An investment in your health now leads to a healthy future. Book an appointment to see us before the end of the year here.
- Stock the Cabinet
Did we mention winter is coming? Winter is synonymous with cold and flu season. Keep following all recommendations to keep you and your family healthy, but be prepared to prevent and tackle any illness that comes your way. Thermometers, cold medicine, pain relief, and fever reducers are all FSA-eligible items. Band-aids, antiseptic ointments, allergy medicine, and acid reflux medicines are also covered. Go through your medicine cabinet. If it’s expired, replace it, and if you’re almost out, stock up! Keep in mind some over-the-counter medicines do require a prescription from your doctor, but there are easy means of communication with your primary care provider to get that taken care of.
- Self Care
You know those aches and pains that have become such a part of your life that they’re just normal now? They weren’t always there, and they don’t have to stay. Your FSA can be used towards shoe insoles, massage balls, acupressure mats, heating pads, ice packs, eye masks, and heated neck wraps. An at-home spa day covered by your FSA dollars is the self-care you didn’t know you needed. Relax and enjoy some much needed time to recover.
- Family Planning and Feminine Care
Are you interested in starting a family (or not)? Many pre- and postnatal care items, as well as prophylactics, are covered under FSA funds. Not too far down that shopping aisle, you’ll find the feminine hygiene products. Possibly not as glamorous as other items on this list, but necessary, nonetheless.
- Remember Vacations?
Travel may be far from our minds right now, but let’s be ready when the time comes. Your sunscreen and SPF chapstick are both FSA-eligible. Nausea relief, bug bite treatments, and first aid kits are also covered. But most importantly, don’t forget those prescription sunglasses (see item #1 on this list)!
- At-Home Medical Care
In the last year, our homes have been transformed into home offices, home gyms, schools, daycares, and home health care centers. Although home health care does not replace a necessary visit to your doctor’s office, there are ways we can take care of ourselves from home. Blood pressure monitors, blood sugar testing supplies, and CPAP supplies all fall under FSA eligibility. Keep in mind, a telehealth visit with your primary care doctor or eye doctor is always a great option for any health-related questions you may have, and your FSA can cover these copays, as well.
You work hard every day, and there are many practical and fun ways to use the FSA dollars you saved. This list goes through many options to help you take advantage of your savings, but don’t panic if you’re just not able to use it all up. Check with your employer, as many companies offer options to roll over a certain amount of your FSA funds into the next year or to extend your funds a month or two into the next year.
2020 On-site is here for all your eye health and vision needs. Check out when our Mobile Vision Clinics will be in a neighborhood near you and schedule an eye appointment. Or, visit our online store for virtual styling, eyewear, contact lenses, and much more.
Wishing you a safe and healthy year ahead!
About Dr. Katherine Harkins
Dr. Katherine Harkins grew up in a small town in Wisconsin and attended college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she earned her BS in Biology. She was drawn to the East Coast to attend optometry school at The New England College of Optometry in Boston and fell in love with the city. After earning her Doctorate in Optometry, she spent the next several years in private practice where she enjoyed caring for patients of all ages, providing comprehensive eye care in both English and Spanish. Dr. Harkins likes to travel, try new foods, and meet new people. She also loves her sports teams and luckily rarely has to choose between cheering for her Wisconsin and New England teams!